17 Feb

Perfectionism: Why doing your second best work is just as good

Why doing your 2nd best work is a really great idea

perfectionism - doing your second best is ok

This one went out to the Motivation Membership recently (you really should be on that list already – here’s the link for awesome stuff like this and a whole heap more about achieving your goals).

It’s a new decade and it seems that everyone has their perfect new shiny diaries filled up with all their perfect tasks that need to get done, to achieve their perfectly shiny, lofty and aspirational goals. And suddenly it’s all really hugely overwhelming…

The bottom line – up front

Too many people spend too much time lost in details, rather than asking if their work is really taking them towards their goal.

Think about these…

  • Perfection is the enemy of progressWinston Churchill
  • The best is the enemy of the goodVoltaire
  • Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble withoutConfucius
  • Striving to better, oft we mar what’s wellShakespeare

Historically too much time is spent engrossed with and obsessing over things that just don’t matter in the big picture. It’s making progress that matters.

Here’s the trap

The more time you spend on something, the more flaws you’ll notice and the more opportunities you’ll see to make adjustments and tweak details. The more adjustments you make, the more material you have to tweak and adjust again. It’s a nasty cycle of never finishing anything – perfectionist paralysis.

What’s the way forward? (without rushing, and still doing beautiful work)

Focus on your day to day habits and processes, not the final product.

  • That way the vision of the end result in all it’s (imagined) perfection and glory won’t be your sole and blinding focus. The process is all about completing the steps that take you there
  • Good habits are what bring process and planning to life

Set deadlines

  • And stick to them. Sh*t happens, sure, but if you are forever adjusting your deadlines, you’ll lose momentum and stagnate. The obvious casualties here are budgets, time, and definitely relationships

Expect that the end result will be messy

  • Seriously
  • There is no doubt that the end result, like everything that we do, will be imperfect. And that’s okay
  • Adjust your expectations and be prepared to help others understand why they should do the same

Perfectionism in teams

Being surrounded by perfectionists is one of the most frustrating places you can be, particularly if you’re a risk taker, enjoy the thrill of experimentation, or are able to pivot quickly when new information comes to light. This is a well-recognised winning mind-set.

And, a winning team isn’t always made up of shining stars, it’s the team that understands momentum and is willing to move on.

On the other hand, perfectionism is driven by ego, and fear. The American Psychology Association cites that “perfectionism correlates with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other mental health problems.” That’s not a great place to be for anyone.

A team of perfectionists pretty much guarantees that nothing will ever be completed.

Ideally you’re surrounded by awesomeness. And it’s not always the case. Take some time to coach the perfectionists, and help them understand that they do not need to fret over every detail. Give them confidence in what they are doing well. Stretch your legs and take a stroll with your natural empathy.

Focus on progress, and get sh*t done.

Need some help with the above? Let’s talk.